2021 will mark 100 years of God’s grace abundantly showered upon (and through!) St. John Lutheran Church of Lariat, Texas
In the early 1920s, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Graf saw a serious need for a place for fellow Lutherans to gather and worship in and around the cities of Farwell, Lariat and Muleshoe, Texas.
By faith, they decided that their own home was an appropriate place for a church service. Rev. R.G. Deffner, pastor of the Immanuel Lutheran Church at Rhea would travel to the Graf home five miles northwest of Lariat and conduct church services every Sunday.
Through prayer and some hard-earned money, the new congregation voted in early 1924 to buy a schoolhouse that sat on land owned by Charles Hildebrant. With $325.00, the schoolhouse was purchased and later moved to a plot of ground at the edge of Lariat, purchased for $132.00. In 1926, a small church building was later built and dedicated as St. John Lutheran Church of Lariat.
The church services in the original church were very different than they are today. German was the official language of the church and all hymnals and Bibles were printed in German. In addition, the worship services were conducted in German. On December 14, 1941, the voter’s assembly of St. John Lutheran Church voted to discontinue all German services and offer only English services. Although a radical decision at the time, motivated by faith the congregation agreed that conducting worship services in English would enable the congregation to grow and provide outreach to both the old and younger generations of the time.
Over the years the church has been blessed with many pastors who have used their education and experience to help the church both grow in faith and better serve the needs of the surrounding communities.
In 1953, a second church building was built and dedicated. In 1956, under the leadership of Rev. E.Z. Oesch, a parish hall was added to the existing church building. The parish hall has allowed the congregation opportunities for fellowship and service through several decades.
For many years the congregation of St. John’s consisted of a nucleus of families that had been members of the church from its establishment. As more and more families moved into the area, the church pews began to get a little crowded. Thankful for the successful outreach and fellowship opportunities the new families provided, the congregation of the church saw a need to expand and renovate.
In 1994, the sanctuary underwent a major renovation, including a re-orientation so that the chancel is now situated at the east end of the nave. The existing altar and pews were refinished. The fellowship hall was expanded and remodeled. A constant reminder of a remarkable history of faith and fellowship, the three stained glass windows at the east end of the church are the original stained glass windows from Immanuel Lutheran Church at Rhea.
It took the faith of few and God’s guidance to start a church in the early 1920s. Years later, St. John Lutheran Church is a thriving presence in a small community as its members continue to work together in faith and love.
The book of Hebrews chronicles many acts that the people of Christ attempted in great faith. Today, as people of Christ, we must set our eyes on what Jesus is now asking us to do and run the race and path that has been laid for us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
On July 11, 2021 St. John celebrated its 100th anniversary. Members and visitors from past and present gathered together to celebrate 100 years of God's grace.